Saving my first Japanese Maple!!!

Eric H

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I have purchased my first Japanese maple, an A. Shirasawanum (Autumn Moon). Originally tagged at $150, I got this chopped little runt just as you see it, covered in aphids, from the wick bay at my favorite nursery for $25. In the last week and a half, I’ve used a systemic, alcohol, knife blade and paper towel to kill/remove the aphids, and replaced just the topsoil in the pot (original pot from the GC). As you can see, the fingernail test near the top of the cut trunk shows brown and dry. Should I cut it drastically near the base (red line in picture below)? Leave the wonky top? I’ve been doing junipers foe 3 seasons, and only just started getting into deciduous at all. This is my first Japanese Maple… Your suggestions and guidance are humbly requested!!!! 903D2056-7564-48DD-9C8F-6327B1A03165.jpeg1343ED5C-A117-4674-A2C2-5E1DD0D86C76.jpeg06FFF279-BDA2-42C3-B5FA-722EC9900AF0.jpeg6B3F4866-81A0-42E3-BDFC-DD1D5095DA13.jpegD385C2F5-3C69-4F43-8FFC-D3F0B8A09402.jpegD0965C8A-0434-4F43-A31C-564DF693D506.jpeg
 

Forsoothe!

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If you are open to systemics, buy a small Bayer 3-in-1 Rose Care and use a little twice a year, April & August (now, this year). Some Miracle Grow can be used every 2 weeks April thru September. Buy a bottle of 30% Isopropyl alcohol which can be sprayed directly on soft sided bugs when needed. Come back in autumn for chopping instructions, because you may get some new growth inbetween now & then and change your tune. Dappled sun outdoors, avoid direct mid-day.
 

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Tums

Mame
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I think I can see the graft scar between your two remaining branches, and the leaf shape is different between them. Maybe only the left/upper branch is Shirasawanum and the right is understock? In that case you would want to remove it eventually but I don't know if the tree would like that right now.
 

Forsoothe!

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Oops! I missed that, looks like not a Moon, but then the species will be more hardy for a newbee.
 

sorce

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Your first topic was so engaging I forgot your Welcome to Crazy!

Pretty sane though since last winter was the one my trees would have died in a shed if I didn't risk a heart attack trying to shovel them out.

Prevent everything preventable!

Are you sure they where aphids? Sounds like scale, cuz those measures against aphids is like bringing a tank to fight a baby.

Sorce
 

Eric H

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@Source… they were little white slivers, except for one HUGE granddaddy one that was the last one I saw. If I happened to use an extreme amount of prejudice against the bugs, I’m okay with that, provided I didn’t hurt the tree (which I don’t appear to have)… perhaps they’ll tell their little friends.
SO… GRAFT? Do sellers do that? Graft a Shirasawanum to a common maple type? I thought the Shirasawanum leaves grow green-red-orange-yellowish then die off in reverse color order. The interwebs said so.
Then, were I to cut the trunk low, I’d just cut off the Autumn Moon section? I’m confused…
 

Eric H

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@Forsoothe this is the one I’ve been using for the last two seasons, and used on this little mapleimage.jpg
 

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Mame
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@Source… they were little white slivers, except for one HUGE granddaddy one that was the last one I saw. If I happened to use an extreme amount of prejudice against the bugs, I’m okay with that, provided I didn’t hurt the tree (which I don’t appear to have)… perhaps they’ll tell their little friends.
SO… GRAFT? Do sellers do that? Graft a Shirasawanum to a common maple type? I thought the Shirasawanum leaves grow green-red-orange-yellowish then die off in reverse color order. The interwebs said so.
Then, were I to cut the trunk low, I’d just cut off the Autumn Moon section? I’m confused…
For landscape/non-bonsai trees, it's usually a lot easier to graft a fancy cultivar onto regular vigorous rootstock than it is to try and get that fancy cultivar to grow its own roots. Only specialty places like Evergreen Gardenworks grow them from cuttings. https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/acer.htm

Like I said before, do you see how the leaves on the two branches are different shapes? And in your second picture, there's a line between the branches? Anything growing from above that line will be Autumn Moon and anything below will be the rootstock.
 

Eric H

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Should I cut the trunk (above the “graft”?) so that. New central leader will hopefully emerge? 57F8054B-4FCA-46BE-9C95-04D754ED952F.jpeg
 

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Mame
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If that part is really dead I don't think cutting it will cause the tree to do anything one way or the other. Isn't the upper branch already going to be the new leader?
 

Eric H

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For landscape/non-bonsai trees, it's usually a lot easier to graft a fancy cultivar onto regular vigorous rootstock than it is to try and get that fancy cultivar to grow its own roots. Only specialty places like Evergreen Gardenworks grow them from cuttings. https://www.evergreengardenworks.com/acer.htm

Like I said before, do you see how the leaves on the two branches are different shapes? And in your second picture, there's a line between the branches? Anything growing from above that line will be Autumn Moon and anything below will be the rootstock.
If that part is really dead I don't think cutting it will cause the tree to do anything one way or the other. Isn't the upper branch already going to be the new leader?
I guess the new upper branch IS the new leader… okay! Like I said, I’m wholly new to deciduous, I’ve only been growing a few in grow pots, haven’t moved any but a red-maple grove from saplings to a bonsai pot yet. SO, Just leave the dead/cut bit of the trunk, and let the new upper branch become the leader/eventual main new section?
 

Shibui

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I think it would be best to leave this one alone to recover and gain strength for at least a year.
The dead section is definitelty dead and looks unsightly. You could cut it off but there is a slight risk of damaging the new shoot which is still very soft and will not be well attached yet. Letting it grow will allow the new shoot to be stronger and less likely to damage when you do the chop.

Definitely grafted as has been pointed out. Need to decide whether to grow the stock or the cultivar. If you wnat the cultivar you could just gently break or cut the lower stock shoot off now before it gets too large or takes over.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Unfortunately, I believe the scion has died, and all you have left is two branches off the green maple root stock.

Shirasawanum has a unique leaf shape without the deep lobes that you see on your tree. It is called "Autumn Moon" because that's what the leaf is supposed to look like - a full moon in Autumn.

64979836_sOptimized.jpg
 

Shibui

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Unfortunately, I believe the scion has died, and all you have left is two branches off the green maple root stock.
Looks like @Bonsai Nut is right. Looks like it is above the graft line but I guess the taller leader is growing from the other side of the under stock. A check of the other side should make it clear. The reduced price suddenly seem more expensive.
 

Eric H

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Shibui - indeed, if the Autumn Moon cultivar is toast, then I didn’t get quite the deal I thought! Ha! Ah well, it’s still cheap and fun.
Bonsai Nut - thank you!!! I guess I should just find a lil’ bonsai pot for this one and pot it in the spring? It can be my green almost-Japanese maple?
(Acer JustADirtyLie) haha.
Seriously though, I thought I was going to save my first Japanese Maple. Ah well.
 

Bonsai Nut

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I guess I should just find a lil’ bonsai pot for this one and pot it in the spring? It can be my green almost-Japanese maple?
(Acer JustADirtyLie) haha.
Seriously though, I thought I was going to save my first Japanese Maple. Ah well.
It's still a Japanese maple - just not that cultivar.

I think all Japanese maples are cool-looking, even generic ones. The good news is that rootstock is usually chosen because it is as healthy and robust as possible. So you can absolutely save that tree and use it for bonsai. I have gone to shows where there have been beautiful Japanese maple bonsai that were labeled as "A. palmatum", without any cultivar name - either because it wasn't a cultivar, or because the provenance was lost at some point and the owner couldn't confirm what cultivar it was.
 

Eric H

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It's still a Japanese maple - just not that cultivar.

I think all Japanese maples are cool-looking, even generic ones. The good news is that rootstock is usually chosen because it is as healthy and robust as possible. So you can absolutely save that tree and use it for bonsai. I have gone to shows where there have been beautiful Japanese maple bonsai that were labeled as "A. palmatum", without any cultivar name - either because it wasn't a cultivar, or because the provenance was lost at some point and the owner couldn't confirm what cultivar it was.
@Bonsai Nut thank you again! I will be proud of my first little mystery Japanese Maple, and keep you cats posted over the next couple seasons! Now, for my questions about the root-over-rock white mulberry I’m working on…
 

Bonsai Nut

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I killed my full moon when I first started lol
I've seen people buy a particular Japanese maple because of the nebari, and if the graft is high or ugly, they simply chop it off, and have a nice green Japanese maple with a good base. This is particularly the case if the tree comes out of landscape somewhere, and is a relatively large tree.
 

JackHammer

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Shibui - indeed, if the Autumn Moon cultivar is toast, then I didn’t get quite the deal I thought! Ha! Ah well, it’s still cheap and fun.
Bonsai Nut - thank you!!! I guess I should just find a lil’ bonsai pot for this one and pot it in the spring? It can be my green almost-Japanese maple?
(Acer JustADirtyLie) haha.
Seriously though, I thought I was going to save my first Japanese Maple. Ah well.
The good news is that you can keep both of your branches if you want.
It looks like it is dead but you still might see some growth from that trunk. I have a huge Japanese maple (not bonsai) in my side yard and it is surprising how fast it grows and how tough it is. It might be worth it to keep it around next season and see what happens. If the graft starts growing, you can always grow it out for a bit and then use it for cuttings or air layering. Then, you have your autumn moon and a thicker trunk on the root stock.
 

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